July 7, 2012

Go-To Recipes

Everyone has recipes that are their go-to's. You know what I mean--staples. Something that you can whip up without really even thinking about it. Something that just hits the spot every time, satisfies all who crave, and leaves your head (and belly) inflated with the belief that you are a master-chef....and maybe you are! 

I'm not a master-chef, per se, but I do enjoy cooking, and I'm proud of the recipes I throw together that feed my family and provide the satisfaction that only food can bring. Admit it people, there is a special spot in your soul for food (at least, there should be!) and no amount of love in the world can substitute! 

In this post I'll be sharing two of my go-to recipes. One is an easy-peasy chicken salad recipe, the other is a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe handed down from my mother to me, although I actually suspect this recipe has been in our family for quite a while, or at least that it has made its way to several branches of the Nelson family tree. 

Chicken Salad:

This chicken salad recipe is great. It has a great blend, great flavor, great texture, isn't too heavy on the calories, and is definitely awesome for summer time! It's crazy easy to prep ahead of time when you have a minute (say....like when your kids are napping!) and by the time the dinner hour rolls around the flavors have had amble time to combine into sultry awesomeness. I also like this recipe for just the opposite--it's equally awesome if you throw it together last minute on a whim or in a pinch. Everything in this recipe compliments everything else, and if a piece was missing, I think it would be noticed--and missed! It's just my basic go-to summer sandwich.

**Quick disclaimer on this recipe: some of these measurements are just guess-timates. I seriously just throw things together until it tastes right. Use your judgment, adjust to what you and your family like, and you'll find that this recipe will follow you anywhere.**

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (I've tried cubing, and shredding most definitely works better in terms of holding the salad together)
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup crasins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I use walnuts when I'm not serving to my father, who is allergic!)
1 cup chopped red delicious apple
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup green onion, chopped
approx. 1/2 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
Onion powder and black pepper to taste (I estimate I use somewhere around 1/4 tsp onion powder but I treat it like salt and make sure I don't add too much!)

In a mixing bowl, combine the apples and the lemon juice (this will prevent the apples from browning throughout the existence of your salad). Mix in the chicken, celery, nuts, crasins, green onion, onion powder and black pepper. Add mayo by the spoonful, stirring after each addition, until it is well-spread (you're shooing for the consistency of a tuna salad). 

Serve well-chilled on your favorite bread (I most recently used a multi-grain bread we got from Costco, which I think has been my favorite pairing so far) between romaine or green-leaf lettuce leaves. 

Yield: 4 large sandwiches

And for dessert...

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies:

(Okay, so I know I've professed my hatred for baking many times, but this recipe is so easy and I do it so often that it doesn't feel like baking. Plus, there's no kneading involved, which means it doesn't involve a workout, and you do, in fact, consume more calories by eating these cookies than you burn by making them, which in my opinion is something that should be characteristic of a good treat!)

1 lb margarine (2 sticks), softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In mixing bowl, combine margarine and sugars. Beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, combine salt, baking soda and flour. Mix well. Add to sugar mixture and combine until well mixed. Add chocolate chips and stir until spread throughout cookie dough.

Spoon 1 Tbsp balls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool.

Yield: 45 cookies

I feel as though most of the meals I make are go-to's in the sense that they tend to be simple, delicious, involve minimal prep work, and often provide substantial left-over's making for an easy night off from the kitchen the next day. These two, however, are a couple of my favorites, and I hope that if anyone tries them, you enjoy them!

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